In the two years that I’ve been writing this blog (that’s right, we’re coming up on the anniversary), my biggest surprise has been the frequency with which I discuss immigration. Certainly, I thought that it would be a major topic. It’s difficult to discuss contemporary Latino culture without at least addressing it.

But I figured I would create a few posts pointing out some basics, such as the following:

  • We demonize the undocumented
  • We hypocritically profit from their labor
  • We claim that race is not an issue
  • We latch on to simplistic answers

I figured after that, I would only touch upon the subject now and then. However, crazy news keeps popping up regarding our love-hate (or at times, hate-hate) relationship with immigration. This is perplexing in a nation that was founded by immigrants and their offspring.

For example, it’s recently come out that more than one hundred illegal immigrants have died in federal detention centers over the past six years. More amazing is the fact that, according to the New York Times, the people in charge of these facilities “used their role as overseers to cover up evidence of mistreatment, deflect scrutiny by the news media, or prepare exculpatory public statements after gathering facts that pointed to substandard care or abuse.”

Basically, lots of noncitizens were being neglected, and perhaps even abused, in these centers. And the reaction of officials was to cover it up. I’m sure part of the reason for this hush-hush treatment is because immigrants are, you know, not really people.

This development comes at the same time that a recent report has assessed the economic impact of immigration reform. The report found that creating a pathway to legal status for the undocumented would pump $1.5 trillion into the economy over a decade. The report said that taking the opposite approach – that is, deporting everybody whose papers are not 100% in line – would cost the country $2.6 trillion over the same time frame.

Of course, we don’t make decisions based purely on dollar considerations (well, maybe Rupert Murdoch does). But these figures are a compelling argument.

Before we get to talk about citizenship and legality, however, perhaps we should make sure that people aren’t being killed in government-run institutions. Yes, that would be nice.